Archives for category: Training Skills

Looking at my post of last week it all seems so long ago given all that has changed.  Publishing swimming sessions to do on our own only lasted 24 hours!  But at least we were able to do our online swimming-focused strength and conditioning session and will do a similar session this week.

I must say that in so many ways it has brought out the best in so many people.  The real heroes are our key workers but from a club perspective we have already seen sessions continue with Tim & Heather’s online sessions and Stuart’s Facebook run session to name but a few.  And I have been really impressed by the huge number of online swim-focused activities I have seen people do and would like to mention a few of my favourites from this week:

  • Brenton Ford’s post from Effortless Swimming on 10 things we can do out of the water at present (I like the cold shower one)
  • Lucy Charles and Reece Barclay’s post about dry land swimming training
  • Helen’s short video from SwimEngland about how to deal psychologically with the current challenges
  • Lucy’s toilet roll challenge for keeping people active from 5kyourway
  • Helen Gorman’s 100m IM challenge

I have been inspired by many of these and will incorporate some of the ideas into the session in this and future weeks.  The session this week will be similar to last week with a slightly shorter warm-up and a slightly extended main set and subset.  I also want to make time for a fun challenge at the end of the session with Lucy’s toilet roll challenge.  So this week please can you bring to the session:

  • Stretch cords (proper or homemade) if you can for the main set
  • Something like a bench to lie on for using the stretch cord
  • 6 toilet rolls and 6 tin cans (without panic buying anything) plus a basket large enough for the toilet rolls

If you can’t get together any of the above don’t worry as we will structure the session with alternatives.  Please don’t make any extra journeys out of the house to get them either!

See you Saturday,



Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash


I am really sorry there will be no more CTC sessions for a while until we get through the Covid-19 outbreak.  So how do we keep our training and swim fitness going?  I have several ideas for you:

  1. Do more running and cycling if it is safe to do so while meeting government guidelines about social-distancing.  We are a triathlon club after all so many of us are able to do this and keep in shape.
  2. Find a pool that is still open and do some swimming by yourselves safely while it is still possible.  I have added all of our recent winter sessions onto my page here so you can do some of our recent sessions if you want.
  3. Use one of the many online resources that are springing up for home-based exercises to keep in shape.
  4. Come and join Helen and myself online while we do a swimming-focused strength and conditioning session from our living room on Saturday morning.  I will send out a link on email for when you can join us this week and we plan to do 2 x 45 minutes sessions with the first one starting at 7am and the second one at 8am.  You will only need a towel to lie on, a sofa and a phone or laptop with screen and camera to see what we are doing.  We will be using Zoom video conferencing to make this possible so follow the link in the email to check it out.

Hope to see some of you on Saturday online!



Photo by Sarah Ardin on Unsplash

We are getting close to race season so it’s time to keep cranking up the pace with the return of USRPT. As a reminder, USRPT stands for Ultra Short Race Pace Training and it is has some very simple rules to make it a very effective form of training for building your speed.  They are:

  1. Swim every 50 fast.
  2. Leave exactly 5s intervals between swimmers and take your time for each 50.
  3. Repeat until your time drops by 1s or more.  When this happens miss out the next 50m.
  4. If the person in front of you misses a 50m for this reason DO NOT close the gap on the next swimmer – keep to the same turnaround for yourself for the whole set.
  5. You do not get to choose when you miss a 50m.  The clock decides when you miss a 50m by telling you your time dropped by 1s or more.
  6. If you do not miss out any 50s then you have not worked hard enough on the set.

Patience and acceleration is critical to getting you swimming at the maximum speed in this set.  If you are tense you will not swim fast for long.  You still need patience to ensure you are relaxed and only apply the acceleration and power when it is effective during the push phase of the stroke.  We will be doing some drills before the main set to help you think about this.

See you Saturday!


It’s special to have a Leap Year Day on Saturday so we have to do a special session to celebrate.  If my internet sources are correct then Leap Year Saturdays only occur every 28 years so we have a long time to wait until the next one!  To celebrate we will be doing a varying pace session with some challenging turnaround times and a lot of distance to complete.  And as the session is a little complicated I have decided to publish the full set below so you can make sure you are fully prepared.

To get the most from the session please do the following:

  • Read the session so you know what is coming up and can make sure you know when the faster efforts are coming rather than just relying on others in your lane;
  • Arrive early for the session so you can start on-time and not disrupt the lane by trying to slot in part way through; and
  • Pace yourself and try and relax as much as possible to ensure you can put the effort in on the faster ones and give yourself the best chance of completing what is going to be a challenging session for most of us.

See you Saturday!



Lane 1 – Saturday 29th February 2020

Leap Year Swim 2020

20 x 100s f/c, swum as 4 sets of 5

    Set 1: swum off 1:40

    Set 2: swum off 1:25

    Set 3: swum off 1:35, 1-5 prog

    Set 4: swum off 1:30, 1-5 prog

3 mins extra Leap Year Brucey Bonus Rest

32 x 50 f/c

12 x 50m every 4th 50m fast (off 45sec)

10 x 50m every 3rd fast (off 50sec)

6 x 50m every 2nd fast (off 55sec)

4 x 50m every 1 fast (off 60sec)

Swim Down – 200 own choice


Lane 2 – Saturday 29th February 2020

Leap Year Swim 2020

18 x 100s f/c, swum as

    Set 1: 5 x 100 off 1:55

    Set 2: 4 x 100 off 1:40

    Set 3: 5 x 100 off 1:50, 1-5 prog

    Set 4: 4 x 100 off 1:45, 1-4 prog

3 mins extra Leap Year Brucey Bonus Rest

28 x 50 f/c

12 x 50m every 4th 50m fast (off 50sec)

8 x 50m every 3rd fast (off 55sec)

5 x 50m every 2nd fast (off 60sec)

3 x 50m every 1 fast (off 65sec)

Swim Down – 200 own choice


Lane 3 – Saturday 29th February 2020

Leap Year Swim 2020

16 x 100s f/c, swum as 4 sets of 4

    Set 1: swum off 2:00

    Set 2: swum off 1:45

    Set 3: swum off 1:55, 1-4 prog

    Set 4: swum off 1:50, 1-4 prog

3 mins extra Leap Year Brucey Bonus Rest

28 x 50 f/c

12 x 50m every 4th 50m fast (off 55sec)

8 x 50m every 3rd fast (off 60sec)

5 x 50m every 2nd fast (off 65sec)

3 x 50m every 1 fast (off 70sec)

Swim Down – 200 own choice


Lane 4 – Saturday 29th February 2020

Leap Year Swim 2020

16 x 100s f/c, swum as 4 sets of 4

    Set 1: swum off 2:15

    Set 2: swum off 2:00

    Set 3: swum off 2:10, 1-4 prog

    Set 4: swum off 2:05, 1-4 prog

3 mins extra Leap Year Brucey Bonus Rest

22 x 50 f/c

10 x 50m every 4th 50m fast (off 60sec)

6 x 50m every 3rd fast (off 65sec)

4 x 50m every 2nd fast (off 70sec)

2 x 50m every 1 fast (off 75sec)

Swim Down – 200 own choice



This week it is the return of the Will Clarke set of 50s swum as a mix of fast and easy 50s with increasing amounts of rest.  The reason I really like this set is that it is a great mix of tight turnarounds near the start with a high frequency of high intensity efforts near the end when you are getting tired.  It also fits really well with our build of speed work towards the start of the season.

One of the things most people find most challenging about this set is varying their pace between the fast and slower 50s at the start of the set when the turnarounds are short.  You cannot say you have really mastered this set until you are able to vary the pace when the turnarounds are short so please do try your best to do this.  Try and use a fast and relaxed stroke rate, which we will be doing drills for before the main set, to make sure you can make the short turnarounds and still be fresh enough to push the faster efforts.

See you Saturday!


It’s time to start adding some faster swims now as we build towards the start of the race season.  However, we’ve spent a lot of time over the Winter working on a good underwater stroke based on a good catch and push driven by rotation in your core.  This helps with a good distance per stroke and the trick to build speed is to increase stroke rate (i.e. strokes per minute) without decreasing your distance per stroke.

Try and do this by keeping your catch slow and patient and just squeezing as bit harder as you accelerate towards the end of the underwater part of the stroke.  Don’t rip it, though, as you will slip water.  The greater pressure during this push phase will push you forward a bit faster and your recovery and stroke rate will naturally increase.  Keeping a fast breath and short fast leg kick will also help with this.

We will be doing some drills on stroke rate after the main set today to help you work on this before we do some 100m pursuit swims to finish.

See you Saturday!


I will be away this weekend joining 1 of 5 Cambridge Triathlon Club Teams at the FolkHalsan Swimrun event in Finland.  But why should you be the ones having all the fun in sub-15 degree water and even colder air temperatures, I hear you cry?  So I’ve left you all some fun sessions in the box to enjoy in a lovely warm Impington pool.

You will be doing some steady aerobic 150s pull with paddles followed by some more stroke rate drills before finishing off with pursuit swims.  You will be doing 100m pursuit swims, like last time, which most people found to be more fun and rapid fire than the 200m pursuit swims we have done in the past.

See you next week!



With the Jess Learmonth inspiration from last week it seems only fitting to follow this week from some Alistair Brownlee inspiration from his silver in the 70.3 World Championships.  You can see a nice race summary below if you missed it.

This gives us a great excuse to do the Brownlee set of progressively paced 100s this week.  I really like this set as it’s a great workout, at a variety of different speeds, and for me captures well the combative and attacking style of racing that both of the Brownlee brothers have brought to triathlon.  To prepare for it we will be doing some higher stroke rate drills to remind you about the importance of a good stroke rate, which is more efficient than trying to keep your stroke too long over the longer distances that we race in triathlon.

See you Saturday!


It seems only fitting this week do the Jess Learmonth set of varying pace 100s with quite a bit of kick to work on the legs.  Why, I hear you cry, when we are triathletes and we all hate doing kick?

Photo by Noelle Otto on

Well, ignoring the obviously unhelpful self-talk of “I hate doing kick” when most of us really just find it really just a bit tiring and uncomfortable, there are three key reasons.  Firstly, I hope many of you will have seen Jess Learmonth in the ITU Grand Final last week and her very impressive silver medal to provide some inspiration.  Secondly, we haven’t done this set for a long time and it is good to keep the variety going and remind your legs what it is like to use them in the water.  And finally, I really do think it is good to do things that we find challenging to give us an opportunity to improve.


See you Saturday!  Rob

We will be keeping the race pace training going as we get towards the end of the season and this week we have two sets to help.  The main set is a shortened version of the positive split 200s set we have done before to help practise going out fast for the first 100m before settling into a steadier rhythm and pace for the second 100m.  The subset following this is based on a set Helen and I did with the Las Vegas Masters and is a good mix of sprint, steady and speed endurance work.

The subset consists of a repeated block of 25, 50, and 75 swims all off the same turnaround time.  That means you will get lots of rest after the 25, a good rest after the 50 and very little, if any, rest after the 75.  To get the most from this set you should sprint flat-out every 25, use the 50 as a steady recover swim and swim the 75 at a good-enough pace to try and make the turnaround time.  There are no extra rests between sets, though, and you need to go straight into a 25m sprint after the 75 even if you have little rest.  I think this makes it a good set to get you used to swimming at a variety of paces and also being able to sprint even when tired.

See you Saturday!



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